Will our congressmen betray our faith and sacrifice our family and life for 30 pieces of silver (or P280 million)? Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Alarmed by the pressure and influence of the Catholic Church in the debate over the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines is threatening to withhold taxpayer funds from the districts of House lawmakers who oppose the controversial legislation scheduled to be voted on December 12.
“The Palace countered heavy lobbying by Catholic bishops by warning lawmakers that they would not get up to P280 million in pork barrel each if they fail to support the reproductive health bill,” according to the Manila Standard. (The Malacañang Palace, commonly known simply as “the Palace,” is the official residence of the President of the Philippines.)
“The counter-offer was made because the Palace and the House leadership are alarmed by the powerful pressure of the Catholic bishops on the lawmakers to prevent the passage of the RH Bill,” said Rep. Antonio Tinio, a co-author of the RH Bill in the House. “If my colleagues in the [Liberal Party] and other members of the majority coalition would continue to defy the President’s clear position [on the RH Bill], they would find themselves without projects to show their constituents and their voters,” he said.
Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, chided the Palace for going after the Church and placing such pressure on pro-life lawmakers to pass the bill. “Our congressional friends … continue to be at the receiving end of the arm-twisting tactics of President Aquino,” said Fr. Castro.
The congressmen from both sides of the RH Bill debate in the House agreed to hold a vote on the bill on Wednesday, December 12. “Wednesday will be D-Day,” said Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, an opponent of the bill. “The 14-year war on the RH Bill will finally end.” He also said the date of the vote is significant because December 12 is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the patroness of the unborn and the secondary patroness of the Philippines. Pro-life and Catholic leaders are planning prayer rallies in anticipation of the vote to pray for the bill’s defeat.